Last week, a Border Police special forces unit (aka assassination squard) killed three West Bank militants near the village of Yatta (near Hebron) in what my Israeli source tells me was a targeted assassination. As they were driving a car near the village, they were ambushed by the assassination squad, who shot out the tires. Then two of the men were executed on the spot with bullets to the head and neck (the information about their wounds comes from George Hale of Maan News). A third victim escaped to a nearby cave, where he too was hunted down and killed, according to an IDF spokesman.
The IDF claims that when they stopped the car, the men acted “suspiciously,” upon which its soldiers opened fire. It also claims, without providing any proof, that weapons were found in the vehicle. Finally, it claims that the three were members of a “Salafist cell” affiliated with Al Qaeda. Daoud Kuttab notes in Al Monitor that Hamas dominated the funerals for the three, making it unlikely they were affiliated with a group competing with Hamas.
Further proof of the assassination may be found in this report by the settler website, Arutz Sheva, which announced that the commander of the Border Police special forces unit had been awarded a commendation from the national police commander. The report uses the Hebrew word for “assassination” (chisul) confirming the report from my own source. Who is this lucky assassin commander? None other than Colonel Shlomi Michael, whose identity I exposed on announcement of his promotion (which was under media gag in Israel).
There are numerous similar past instances in which Israeli security forces murdered West Bank militants while they were sitting or driving in cars. So the this MO is well-known to the Israeli killers.
My hunch is that because there is a truce in place between Israel and Hamas that would prohibit such targeted killings, Israel trumped-up a “Salafist threat” in order to be able to claim it hadn’t violated the truce.
The PA hasn’t uttered a single word in protest at this invasion of its sovereignty. They don’t make a stink when their Palestinian enemies (affiliated with Hamas) are murdered by the Israelis. Another indication that the PA doesn’t serve Palestinian interests, but its own self-interested ones.
I should note that it is possible that the victims were planning a terror attack and that this was the reason for their assassination. But the information Israel has provided is so sketchy that it brings their entire narrative regarding this event into question. I’m in favor of apprehending terrorists (if these victims were) in order to prevent violence. But I’m not in favor of extra-judicial executions, whether they be U.S. or Israeli-sponsored.
There may come a time when Col. Michael is called before another officer, and this time not for a commendation. It may be an officer of the International Court of Justice. Instead of a framed plaque he may get a criminal sentence. The disconnect between Israeli and international standards of justice could not be greater.